Gloucestershire retailers can be reassured that every shoplifting incident they endure will be treated seriously, regardless of the value of the stolen property, says Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martin Surl.
The misconception amongst many retailers that low value thefts would not be investigated under a certain threshold became alarmingly apparent at an event last October, when a Retail Crime Review report produced by Mr Surl’s office was launched.
Steps were taken by the Constabulary to address concerns over patchiness in its response to victims of retail crime. Letters are now being sent out to businesses across the county, updating them on progress and assuring them that any shoplifting incident will be treated seriously.
Mr Surl said: ‘Let’s be clear that every crime matters. Whether it’s a high-performance laptop or a packet of sweets that’s been stolen, shop-owners expect a proper response from the police and rightly so.
“But it’s been apparent from discussions I’ve had with retailers – both at the review launch and out and about in the county – that there is some confusion over what police will deal with, and amongst some officers themselves.
“The Retail Crime Review I commissioned mapped out a new approach to tackling shoplifting and I’m pleased to learn that a plan of action is in place and retailers are being reassured that all offences will be dealt with appropriately.”
The notion of ‘nothing under £200’ is often cited amongst retailers, but is likely to have risen from a misunderstanding of the court process.
The Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 allows anyone in England or Wales stealing goods costing under £200 to plead guilty by post, or face the magistrates’ court. They then face a fine or up to a year in prison.
The Constabulary’s Head of Investigations, Det Supt Steve Bean said: “The police response seems to have somehow become mixed up with the court process and sentencing guidelines when they are actually separate things.
“It’s quite simple: shoplifting is theft, and the police will deal with theft at all levels, regardless of the monetary value of the items stolen.
“The findings of the PCC’s Retail Crime Review make for some very interesting reading and gives some much-needed clarity to issues affecting the local retail community. Gloucestershire Constabulary has listened to those concerns and is making a concerted effort to improve our service in this area. This includes a comprehensive action plan, a working group of key stakeholders and a review of current practices around the investigation and resourcing of retail crime incidents.”